Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

How Holding an Internal Focus Benefits You

How Holding an Internal Focus Benefits You

If you do something for yourself, rather than for the external impact, you can increase your:

  • motivation,
  • alignment with your values and purpose,
  • influence on others and the situation,
  • responsibility levels,
  • effort and preparation levels,
  • positive attitude,
  • confidence levels,
  • happiness levels,
  • ability to challenge others,
  • integrity,
  • independence,
  • self-determination, 
  • perseverance levels, and
  • success.

When we make choices for ourselves, we have an internal locus of control. We believe we can influence our own life outcomes when we are internally directed. 

When we have an external locus of control we attribute outcomes to external circumstances such as other people, events, luck or fate. 

There are drawbacks to having an internal locus of control, though.  Being hard on oneself and feeling responsible for both success and failure are also part and parcel of being internally directed. Sometimes a realistic sense of one’s circle of influence is helpful in a team or corporate context. 

Overall though having an internal locus of control is seen to be better at creating outcomes we have a stronger likelihood of achieving.  

As William Shakespear said. To thine own self be true.

How can an attitude of I am doing this for me help you?

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5 Ways a Resilient Attitude Will Benefit Your Career and Work Search

5 Ways a Resilient Attitude Will Benefit Your Career and Work Search

Some people hire and retain for attitude. A resilient attitude may help you with this and in other ways as well. The following sections and bullets list ways to show you how holding a resilient attitude can benefit your career or work search.  

1. Having an Optimistic Attitude:

Being optimistic about the future and believing that good things do and will happen helps keep adversity in perspective. When the going gets tough in your career or the work search, remember this too shall pass and good things will again come your way. Here are a few suggestions to help increase your optimism by:

  • noticing what went well in your day, week, and month,
  • determining what you are gaining in the work search in the way of skills, and contacts,
  • noticing the balancing effects that not working brings to your life; more time with family, and friends,
  • putting the work search or your career in perspective, trying not to take an industry downturn or layoff personally, and
  • noticing how you have positively changed over the course of your career or your work search.

 2. Being Socially Connected:

Cultivating your relationships and network will benefit you. You will need to ensure you bring benefit to others along the way. You can do this by: 

  • taking the time to invite your network to an interesting industry event,
  • sending your network a relevant article you found online,
  • interacting with groups online in a way that contributes to members success,
  • supporting others by volunteering in your industry, or community, and
  • learning new skills and making new contacts where you volunteer (it truly feels good to help others).

 3. Accepting Help:

If you need support and help along the way, you can ask for it and give yourself permission to be on the receiving end of support by:

  • getting advice from others you admire,
  • asking others who have been through a similar situation about how they succeeded,
  • reading a positive book or blog that supports you,
  • going to support groups or joining virtual ones on Facebook or other social media,
  • getting support in the form of career counselling or help from a therapist if you are getting in your own way.

 4. Welcoming Change:

How can welcoming change help you in your career or work search? Adapting to changes that occur in industries and the workplace requires that you work on your ability to welcome change. Here are a few tips on how to manage and be more flexible to change by:

  • flexing to the needs of bosses, others in your team, search professionals, and people in your network,
  • adapting to the feedback and being receptive to trends in your industry,
  • being prepared to transfer industries if the one you are in is in a downturn,
  • leaning into feedback and being curious about others' opinions, and
  • learning from the missteps, you make along the way and modifying your approach.

5. Being Grateful:

The work search is full of rejection so balancing this out with gratitude will enhance your energy levels and mood. Your career itself can also be difficult from time to time. Here are some ideas to put gratitude to work. You might try being grateful for:

  • the people who invite you to coffee and who are truly there for you,
  • the growth and learning you are gaining in your career or during work search process,
  • for what you already have, noticing the small joys and successes in your day, 
  • the skills and character you are developing, and
  • the life and career lessons you are learning along the way in your career or the work search process.

Which of the 5 areas is your career or work search needing the most? You can utilize these 5 resilient attitudes to support your progress in your work search and career in general, obtaining the work and projects you desire.  

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Creating a Resilient Leadership Outlook

Creating a Resilient Leadership Outlook

Resilient leaders need to both support and challenge their employees. If leaders are centered in their heads, often all they can do is challenge. This is not empowering for anybody. The leaders themselves and employees reporting to them, often feel a relentless driving pressure which doesn’t contain enough support. Employees’ enthusiasm and energy levels drain when there is nothing positive to focus on. 

Positive encouragement drives performance, creates a safe space, and demonstrates care. Pushing for results and having heart at the same time, enables humanity which increases motivation and performance. Employees will feel the support of their leader if they feel valued and respected for their good qualities. Everyone will be more open to seeing challenges and feedback as constructive because they feel powerful. 

So how do you move from orienting yourself with your head alone to using both your head and your heart when you lead? 

You can start down this path by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I appreciate about my life and work? 
  • What skills, passions, accomplishments, and strengths have I demonstrated?
  • What am I proud of? 

“To help others develop, start with yourself.”- Marshal Goldsmith

Then when you are able to appreciate, honor, and feel proud of yourself on a consistent basis, you can move your focus to your team. At that point ask yourself:

  • What do I appreciate about my team members?
  • What skills, passions, accomplishments, and strengths do my team members demonstrate?
  • What makes me proud about my team? 

You can’t just think about the answers to these questions, though. You will need to let the team members know the details of what you notice. The positive inner response you will gain from this focus will help you do the work of leadership more naturally and with increased ease. 

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”- Nelson Mandela

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5 Ways to Face Your Fears and Make Progress

5 Ways to Face Your Fears and Make Progress

Fear can stop us in our tracks. However, if we approach fear in the right way we can advance and learn some things along the way. 

I found some quotes on dealing with fear and have included a few of them. I hope they inform and inspire you as much as they did me. 

“Each of us must confront our own fear, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it. “- Judy Blume

I remember when I went back to school full time to take my MBA. I changed my major and went into an area that I was more motivated by and that I found more interesting. I did, though, have to quit my well-paying job. It took a huge leap of faith and I trusted that my gut was leading me in the right direction. I wasn’t motivated by finance, which was my major in my undergraduate degree and working in the area was making me unwell. I was good at math, but it wasn’t an area I was passionate about. 

I bought an audio book called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I used to go over to a nearby park and listen to it. The book helped motivate me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My gut was right, I never felt unmotivated in my work again. 

Here are some learnings from my story:

  1. Trust your gut.
  2. If you want to realize your dreams, you may have to be willing to take a leap of faith, despite your fearful feelings. 
  3. Take action.
  4. Learn about the things that are holding you back.

1. Acknowledge, Face, and Dissolve the Fear

‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Ideally, you will take on the challenge of acknowledging, facing, and dissolving your fears. This, however, requires further reflection and deep thinking about the situation you fear.  It requires that you move toward the fear and become more curious about it. 

Ask yourself:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • What is the worst that can happen?
  • What is your story?
  • What are your fearful feelings trying to tell you?

Observe what is going on. Get curious about the thoughts your fear generates. Become aware of the pictures in your head the fear creates. Think about alternative visions that do not include negative outcomes within them.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you holding back to avoid looking silly, being judged, or getting rejected? 
  • What are the legitimate things you need to learn that would help you be successful? 
  • Are you afraid of success? 
  • Or is it something else that is holding you back? 

2. Act on Your Fear

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” - Dale Carnegie

Do the things that frighten you. This action builds courage and strength. You may have noticed that 80-90% of the fearful thoughts you have never happen. These thoughts just hold you back from accomplishing your goals. 

Think of the next step that you need to do to get moving. Often we focus on the end product but the end result is often too far away. If instead, we focus on the next thing we can do to make progress toward our goal, it can help us to move forward. 

Taking small steps towards your goals are fine and are something to be affirmed and appreciated as you make progress. If you take enough small steps, before you know it, you will be at your end goal. 

It isn’t how you feel, it is what you do. My actions were that I quit my full-time job and enrolled in an MBA with another major. I did it and then day-by-day I went to classes, took on part-time work to finance my studies, and eventually finished my MBA. The actions, not the worries were what mattered. 

Acting brings self-confidence along with it. When you act you gain experience and with that experience, you feel confident. Sitting around and thinking won’t make you feel confident, however, action will. What action can you take to overcome your fear this week?

3. Center Yourself to the Present Moment

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

The present moment is fine and even wonderful. You can experience positive feelings and thoughts again by focusing on the present moment. You are more than your fears; you are a bigger and brighter awareness. 

I notice that when I appreciate what I have and the events of my day, my outlook is a lot brighter. By focusing on what you are grateful for, you can change your focus and cope with more resourcefulness than when you are fearful. 

4. Be Positive

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” - William Allen White

When you notice you are being fearful about possible outcomes try and make a point of looking for evidence that the situation could also turn out positively. Our thoughts narrow when we are fearful, however, if we sit with our situation and look for positive outcomes our thoughts broaden. 

  • Is there an opportunity to think or feel something positive within the situation we are afraid of? 
  • Who could you become by taking on the lesson within the fearful situation?
  • What is the fear asking you to do or be?
  • Can you call on your past skills or successes to help you with this situation?

Being resourceful in the midst of a fearful situation enables the positive to evolve within the situation. 

5. Learn About Your Specific Fear

“Fears are educated into us, and can if we wish, be educated out.” - Karl Augustus Menninger

Read and learn about your specific fears by listening to a talking book on the subject as I did. I have often found, when I have a problem, I can find someone that can help me through the situation or a book to read on the topic I was struggling with. 

This quote sums it all up and hopefully will inspire you to do what you need to do to face and move through your fear. 

 “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Book review for Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. 

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